USA Network has given a 10-episode series pickup to the untitled drama pilot created by Sean Jablonski. The order marks a very quick return to primetime for former Glades star Matt Passmore who was cast as the lead in the USA pilot the second he was released from The Glades following the series’ cancellation by A&E. Produced by Universal Cable Prods., the Sean Jablonski project is described as a provocative drama exploring a marriage that has grown stagnant. It follows investment banker Neil Truman (Passmore) who accidentally discovers his wife’s (Stephanie Szostak) involvement with an escort. Jablonski, who helped get USA’s hit legal drama Suits off the ground as showrunner on its first season, is executive producing the new series with Russ Krasnoff (Community) of Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment. It will film in Atlanta, Georgia for a premiere this summer. “This is a powerful new addition to our drama slate and marks the next generation of sophisticated storytelling for USA,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber. The Sean Jablonski series continues USA’s efforts to expand its drama brand beyond the blue-sky, fun drama procedurals with appealing leads that put it on the map and propelled it to the top cable ratings spot. Those efforts have included darker cop show Graceland as well as the recently ordered six-episode thrilled drama event series DIG starring Jason Isaacs. With the pickup of Sean …
By this time, USA Network series White Collar would normally be deeply in preproduction, getting ready to start filming in March. But not this year. It’s already mid-February, and there is still no decision on the future of the buddy crime drama whose most recent fifth season ended two weeks ago. I hear there has been some communication between USA and White Collar producer Fox TV Studios but no meaningful dialogue so far. Given the way Season 5 ended — with a cliffhanger involving the abduction of Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) — it is safe to assume that there will be some sort of continuation, likely a conclusion for the series. The question is what that sixth and final installment will be. I hear the network has been mulling a short miniseries to wrap the story in the vein of Showtime’s The Big C, while the studio would prefer a traditional final season. While Collar‘s status as one of USA’s signature series would weigh in favor of the second option. All of USA’s other established series – Monk, Burn Notice (also produced by FtvS), Psych and In Plain Sight — have received a proper send-off with a final season (While USA prefers to announce the end of its series when their last seasons hit the air for tune-in reasons, all producers are told at the time of the final renewal so they can plan …
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Garcelle Beauvais has signed with APA across the board. The NYPD Blue and Jamie Foxx Show alum and former Franklin & Bash regular, who departed the TNT legal dramedy in 2012, guest-starred recently on Necessary Roughness, Psych, and Arrested Development and made big screen appearances in Flight and White House Down. She next stars in indie drama And Then There Was You, from helmer Leila Djansi. Beauvais is additionally repped by Luber Roklin Management and Edelstein, Laird & Sobel.
The Gersh Agency has signed writer-director Eric England (Madison County), whose low-budget STD horror flick Contracted was released by IFC Midnight last fall. The helmer is next set to direct TJ Cimfel-scripted Hellbent, about a woman who joins a rescue crew to look for her husband after a mining accident and instead discovers a demonic presence. England is also developing horror pic The Sirens with Barbed Wire Films’ Brad Douglas, in which a group of deep-sea fishermen encounter four mysterious young women and get hooked into a ritual sacrifice. He’s repped by Vol. Unlimited Entertainment and Miloknay Weiner, LLP.
USA Network has given a series order to comedy pilot Benched starring Eliza Coupe and Jay Harrington. The single-camera project hails from ABC Signature, marking the first series for ABC Studios’ boutique division. “Benched is one of those unique series that creates an immediate connection with the audience,” said USA Network president Chris McCumber. “The lead is played brilliantly by Eliza Coupe, who has undeniable chemistry with Jay Harrington’s character. Benched is a half-hour courtroom comedy that focuses on Nina (Coupe), a dedicated, career-driven corporate attorney who has a very public nervous breakdown after getting passed up for an expected promotion, and finds herself working as a public defender. Harrington stars as Nina’s new colleague, Phil, a tall, dark and handsome, if not a little scruffy, public defender and avid gambler. With Happy Endings alumna Coupe, Benched brings to USA a piece of the cult comedy series that USA came close to acquiring last year following its cancellation by ABC. Benched was written by SNL alumna Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones who executive produce with Party Down co-creator John Enbom and Mark Gordon Co.’s Mark Gordon and Andrea Shay. Benched is part of USA’s push in original comedy series. The first show to come out of that effort, Denis Leary’s Sirens, debuts March 6.
TCA: ‘Suits’ Influencing Young Viewers To Go To Law School, Not Show Ass Crack, Cast Members Say (Video)
UPDATED WITH TCA TRAILER: The cast and creator of USA Network’s Suits came to the TCA Winter TV Press Tour this morning and talked about the show’s impact on the nation. “It was a White House Christmas party a year ago,” reminisced cast member Gina Torres. “It was one of those things – ‘Oh, my God. We are going to the White House!’ And it was like Comic-Con for lawyers… politicians start off as lawyers, or they start off as businessmen — they are running companies, or they have lots of lawyers in their lives, or whatever it is. And I walk into this thing, and whether it’s pages or whether it’s, you know, the congressman from this or that, and, then, the First Lady’s chief of staff, says, ‘I love your show. We love your show’,” Torres said. Her thought at the time: “Is the First Lady, is Michelle watching the show?”
Suits returns on Thursday, March 6 at 9 PM after a triumphant third quarter in which it was a Top 5 program in the demo among all of TV’s primetime scripted series. Last October, USA gave the hit legal drama a 16-episode fourth-season renewal, and series creator and showrunner Aaron Korsh signed an overall deal with Suits producer Universal Cable Prods to continue on the show and develop new scripted series.
UPDATED WITH TCA TRAILER: “[USA] said ‘OK, listen, you can’t show the horse actually getting a blowjob’, and we said, ‘We know we can’t show the horse getting the blowjob,’ but, secretly, we were, ‘F*ck! We can’t show the horse getting a blowjob!’ ” Denis Leary told TCA critics this morning when asked the difference between making Rescue Me for FX and making his new series, Sirens, for USA Network.
Leary and Bob Fisher came to the winter TV press tour to talk about Sirens, premiering March 6 at 10 PM after the return of Suits at 9 PM. It moves to a single episode at 10 PM the next week, paired with a Modern Family repeat at 10:30 PM. The single-camera comedy follows three Chicago EMTs played by Michael Mosley (Pan Am, Scrubs), Kevin Daniels (Modern Family), and Kevin Bigley. It’s based on a British series of same name. Leary’s business partner, Jim Serpico, was approached by the British producers, who were fans of Rescue Me, wondering if they wanted to adapt it for the U.S. “We really liked those guys, and USA was pillaging the cast of Rescue Me and putting them into shows,” Leary explained. So they decided “we can make some money off these USA people,” he said.
Rescue Me co-creator/star Denis Leary is back in business with FX, this time on the comedy side. FX Networks has given a pilot order to Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, written by and starring Leary as a middle-aged rock ‘n roller who desperately wanted to be rich and famous but so far, he’s 0 for 2. The show will feature original music and occasional guest appearances by actual rock stars. The pilot, tentatively slated to film in the spring in New York City, is produced by FX Prods. and Fox Television Studios where Leary and Jim Serpico’s Apostle has a cable deal. Leary and Serpico exec produce. As is the case with most FX comedy pilots, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is being ordered under the FX Networks umbrella, with a decision whether the project would be for flagship FX or comedy-centric FXX to be made at a series pickup. “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is a terrific script and concept with Denis Leary’s signature brand of comedy,” said FX president of original programming Eric Schrier. “Denis is a tremendous talent who played a major role in the growth of our network with Rescue Me, which was one of the most groundbreaking series of the last decade.” Added Leary, “I am very excited to be returning to FX where working with Nick (Grad), Eric and John Landgraf has been one of the best creative experiences of my life. Plus I hear they have much better swag now.”
Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, which has no connection to Eric Bogosian’s play of the same name, is centered on Johnny Rock (Leary) who, as the magnificently talented lead singer of New York’s legendary early 90′s band The Heathens, was on his way to the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. His best friend Flash was being called the next number one lead guitar player on planet earth. The critics loved them. Their live shows were selling out. But Johnny had a problem with booze. And coke. And weed. And pills. And cough medicine. And oh yeah – he slept with Flash’s wife. And his bass player’s fiancée.
The second half of the 2013-14 TV season kicked off Thursday night with the series bow of ABC’s The Assets and season debut of The Taste. Here’s a rundown of the midseason shows that will hit the airwaves for the first time during between now and May 31, along with those returning for new seasons or coming off hiatus:
Downton Abbey (PBS, Season 4 premiere)
Revenge (ABC, returns from hiatus)
The Bachelor (ABC, season premiere)
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Season 4B premiere)
Intelligence (CBS, series premiere; regular slot debut at 10 PM Monday, January 7)
Ravenswood (ABC Family, Season 1B premiere)
Justified (FX, Season 5 premiere)
Killer Women (ABC, series premiere)
Cougar Town (TBS, Season 5 premiere)
Psych (USA, Season 8 premiere)
Chicago PD (NBC, series premiere)
The Spoils of Babylon (IFC, limited series premiere)
Enlisted (Fox, series premiere)
Banshee (Cinemax, Season 2 premiere)
Helix (Syfy, series premiere)
Shameless (Showtime, Season 4 premiere)
True Detective (HBO, series premiere)
Girls (HBO Season 3 premiere)
House of Lies (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
Episodes (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
EXCLUSIVE: Back in July the USA Network legal drama star tweeted how he was “hooked” on the BBC America show. Well, now Patrick J. Adams is in Toronto today shooting a guest appearance for the upcoming second season of Orphan Black, I’ve learned. Suits’ Adams will play the character of Jesse on a yet undated episode of the clone-heavy sci-fi drama series. Described as a brave but regular guy, Jesse lands in a ton of trouble when the clone characters played by Tatiana Maslany enter his life. Season 2 of Orphan Black is set to debut on BBC America and Canada’s Space on April 19, 2014. Suits is scheduled to return for a third season on USA Network on March 6 next year. Adams is repped by UTA, Andy Corren Management and attorney Lev Ginsburg.
USA Network has set a midseason schedule, which includes drama Suits returning to Thursdays to lead into new comedy Sirens, USA’s first original half-hour comedy in a long time. White Collar also will air on Thursdays, while Psych‘s eighth season, expected to be the hourlong comedy’s last, will air on Wednesdays. The midseason premiere of Suits will be on Thursday, March 6 at 9 PM, followed by the debut of medical comedy Sirens, executive produced by Denis Leary, at 10 PM. (trailer below) Sirens will launch with two back-to-back episodes before switching to a single episode at 10 PM the following week, paired with a Modern Family repeat at 10:30 PM. Suits started on Thursday before moving to Tuesday. White Collar will start things off on Thursday, returning on hiatus on January 9, paired with Law & Order: SVU reruns. Season 8 of Psych will air on on Wednesdays, beginning on January 8. It is somewhat surprising that USA chose a drama, Suits, instead of a comedy like Psych or Modern Family as a lead-in for new comedy Sirens. “As a top cable drama, Suits has a huge following of young viewers making a perfect segue to Denis Leary and Bob Fisher’s brand of comedy,” said USA”s EVP Jackie de Crinis. “Both series feature sharp, witty banter from an ensemble of great characters.”
Bravo today announced November premiere dates for five returning unscripted series — two Real Housewives shows, Fashion Queens, Vanderpump Rules and Shahs Of Sunset — as well as unveiling the new series Thicker Than Water. That latter series, which will debut November 10, follows Nashville’s Ben and Jewel Tankard and their blended and extended family as they live, love and laugh through the perils and pleasures of life. Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills (November 4, 8-10 PM) will introduce new castmembers, London-born Carlton Gebbia and former Miss Puerto Rico Joyce Giruad de Ohoven. The month kicks off November 3 at 8 PM with the Season 6 premiere of Real Housewives Of Atlanta. Here are the network descriptions of the new seasons and their return dates:
After focusing on comedy with series orders for Sirens and Playing House and pilot pickups for Love Is Dead and Divide & Conquer, top-rated cable network USA is making its first major move in drama this year, greenlighting an hourlong pilot from writer-producer Sean Jablonski. Produced by Universal Cable Prods., the untitled project is described as a provocative drama that follows investment banker Neil Truman and his wife Grace who are sifting through their stagnant relationship when Neil discovers that Grace is seeing a male escort and accidentally gains possession of the escort’s phone. He gains a unique perspective on his life and what motivates women, while Grace contemplates whether her needs are being met and whether her marriage is worth saving. Jablonski is executive producing the pilot with Russ Krasnoff (Community). This marks Jablonski’s return to USA and UCP where he served as executive producer/showrunner on the first season of hit drama Suits.
On the drama side, USA most recently picked up period sci-fi drama pilot Horizon last December. That project is now filming. While half-hour comedy has been a priority for USA brass in light of next month’s off-network launch of Modern Family, drama remains the network’s bread and butter, with several new hourlong pilots expected to be greenlighted shortly. Before Suits, Jablonski, repped by WME and Underground, was on FX’s Nip/Tuck for the series’ …
USA Network has hired Tracy St Pierre as VP West Coast Communications and Emily Spitale has been upped to VP Communications. Both will report to Hilary Smith, SVP Communications for the network. St Pierre was Senior Director for NBC Entertainment Publicity for the past 10 years; she will work out of LA and have oversight of USA’s West Coast-based press team. Her duties will include spearheading the launch of the network’s new original comedy series Playing House among other series, and she will help lead USA’s award campaigns and manage talent relations. Spitale, who will remain in New York, will shepherd the arrival of off-net biggie Modern Family this fall as well as the launch of new original comedy Sirens, which is set to debut in first-quarter 2014. She will continue to work on network PR strategy, award campaigns, and manage talent relations.
Greg Grunberg and Diane Farr will topline the USA Network comedy pilot Divide & Conquer, an original half-hour project from executive producer/writer Peter Ocko. USA greenlighted the Divide & Conquer pilot in May on the heels of the network making its first comedy series orders in 15 years with Sirens and Playing House and greenlighting another half-hour pilot, Love Is Dead. The original comedies are slated to premiere in first-quarter 2014 as eventual companions to Modern Family; among the newbies, Divide & Conquer is the only true family comedy that could go well with the massive off-network acquisition, which debuts September 24. Produced by Universal Cable Prods, Divide & Conquer gets into the heads of a big family: four children finding their way to adulthood in these complicated times and the parents whose lives they’re sucking dry to get there. Grunberg and Farr will play the parents: Evan is a daydreamer-turned-patent attorney who believes modern-day families are over-parenting their kids, and Charlotte is a career woman-turned-stay-at-home mom who’s trying to help her kids navigate growing up. Grunberg is repped by Resolution. Farr is repped by UTA, Silver Lining Entertainment and attorney Eric Suddleson at Nelson Felker.
As they say, for every cancelled broadcast series, like NBC’s Southland and ABC’s Cougar Town, that finds a second home, there are scores that don’t. Sony TV began exploring a possible future for its cult ABC comedy Happy Endings well in advance of the network’s May decision not to order a fourth season. USA, which is re-entering the half-hour comedy space in a big way this fall with off-network acquisition Modern Family, expressed interest dating back to early April. It entered talks with Sony immediately after ABC made the cancellation decision the Friday before upfronts. But three weeks later, I’ve learned that USA has opted not to proceed with the pickup. I hear the cable network’s brass loved the show creatively but its low ratings on ABC played a factor in the decision as it meant a large investment in marketing and promotion, money USA decided to spend on its home grown half-hour series. The network just made its first half-hour series orders in 15 years, Sirens and Playing House.
While USA was considered the only real play for Happy Endings after ABC, Sony TV is known for never giving up and finding a way to bring shows back from the dead (Unforgettable, Drop Dead Diva, Breaking In, just to name a few.) I hear the studio continues conversations with other possible distributors. With its small but rabid fan base, Happy Endings would be a good …
USA Network has greenlighted Divide & Conquer, a half-hour comedy pilot written and executive produced by Peter Ocko (Fairly Legal, The Office). The pickup comes on the heels of USA last week making its first comedy series orders in 15 years with Sirens and Playing House and greenlighting half-hour pilot Love Is Dead. USA’s original comedy strategy is built around the network’s off-network acquisition of Modern Family, which launches on USA in September. USA’s first original comedies are slated to premiere in first quarter 2014 as companions to Modern Family. Among Sirens, Playing House, Love Is Dead and Divide & Conquer, Divide & Conquer is the only true family comedy that could go well with Modern Family. Produced by Universal Cable Prods, it gets into the heads of a big family: four children finding their way to adulthood in these complicated times, and the parents whose lives they’re sucking dry to get there. In addition to its development, USA also is considering a pickup of recently cancelled cult ABC comedy Happy Endings, which looks promising, and is taking another crack at pilot Paging Dr. Freed. Ocko is with Vision Art.
USA Network unveiled its drama development slate today and said it will start production this summer on the pilot Horizon, the period genre drama from The Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd that the network pushed in February. The new slate (see the full list below) includes Complications, the latest from Burn Notice‘s Matt Nix; the new Rob Thomas project Blanco County; and works from Doug Liman and David Semel. The news comes on the heels of the network’s newest original series, the Jeff Eastin-created Graceland, joining the summer drama schedule with a premiere set for June 6.
Comedy is expected to take center stage at USA Network‘s upfront presentation this afternoon as the cable network touts to advertisers the fall launch of its big off-network acquisition, Modern Family, and unveils its newly picked up original comedy series Sirens and Playing House. The cable network has been getting extra attention from comedy fans in the past week following ABC’s decision last Friday to cancel cult series Happy Endings. Talks between USA and leading Happy Endings producer Sony TV continue. At this point, I hear a pickup appears unlikely but the network is carefully exploring the opportunity to migrate a show with some success on broadcast TV and a dedicated fan base the way ABC’s Cougar Town moved to TBS.
Of its three comedy pilot/presentations it had in consideration, USA picked up two, Sirens and Playing House. The third, Paging Dr. Freed, which was the first one ordered almost two years ago, is still in contention. I hear USA brass liked the pilot for the family medical comedy but thought it felt more like a season finale and didn’t properly introduce the characters. I hear the network approached Paging Dr. Freed creator Michael Feldman and studio Fox 21 about redeveloping the project and writing a new pilot script. If USA likes the new script, I hear it is intent on picking up the project straight to series. The options on the Paging Dr. Freed producers have been extended while those on the cast have lapsed. I hear USA is keen on bringing Annie Potts back if she is available. (Her ABC pilot Murder In Manhattan did not get picked up but is being considered by cable networks.)
Three years after USA Network signaled a move into half-hour comedy with the off-network acquisition of Modern Family and three months before the ABC comedy is to launch on the cable network, USA has greenlighted its first original half-hour comedies in some 15 years: the single-camera Sirens from Denis Leary and Bob Fisher and Playing House, from Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham. Additionally, USA, which is holding its upfront today, has picked up single-camera half-hour comedy pilot Love Is Dead, from writer Zev Borow. USA’s other half-hour pilot, Paging Dr. Freed, is still alive. And USA is in conversations about picking up ABC comedy series Happy Endings.
Sirens and Playing House will premiere in the first quarter of 2014 as companions to Modern Family, which is set to bow on USA on September 24. “With Modern Family joining our lineup in the fall, we can leverage television’s most popular comedy to serve as a powerful launch pad for new originals in this genre,” said USA’s co-president Chris McCumber. Added co-president Jeff Wachtel, “Our new series come from some of the best comedic talent in the business, and reflect USA’s style — with great characters, strong execution and compelling storytelling.” USA ran several half-hour comedies under the network’s old regime in the 1990s, including Weird Science, USA High and Campus Cops, before USA rebuilt its brand as a home of light, character-driven hourlong series over the past decade.